Summer holidays mean long days at the seaside. There are lots of beautiful areas to enjoy all along the United Kingdom's coastline and it is very likely that you and your family will spend a day or two at one of these beaches on one of the sunny weekends that we hope to get this year.
As the UK's leading authority on water safety, the Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) wants you all to have fun at the beach this summer, but as you know, where there is water, there is potential danger. So here, the STA's President Dave Candler has listed a few guidelines to help you and your friends and family have a fun-filled yet safe trip to the sea-side:
The first safety tip is probably the most obvious when playing in and around the water, that is to learn to swim. The STA run a range of courses for all age groups, so learning to swim and to be safe in and around the water is made as easy and enjoyable as possible. Learning to be a competent and strong swimmer is the best possible safety tip for children and adults alike.
When you are at the beach make sure you watch out for the winds, waves and water. When the wind blows across the sea it makes waves. Waves can be fun but they are also dangerous. If waves become strong they can sometimes drag people into them and sweep them out to sea, so you need to be very careful when you are paddling close to the water.
The STA recommend that you should never go alone to the beach. Swim with a friend, or better still take an adult along (they can be useful if somebody gets into trouble) and make sure that you keep to the proper swimming areas. On the beach the safe areas to swim are shown by a red and yellow flag - always swim between these flags and you will be safe. If you swim out of the area, a Lifeguard may not be able to see you if you get into difficulty.
Save inflatables like rubber rings and lilos, for the swimming baths. In the sea, because of the fast moving water - or currents, it is possible that you and your inflatable will get swept away from the beach and out into the deep sea. An inflatable being swept away by the tide and the wind will move faster than anybody can swim, so to keep safe, leave your rubber ring at home, make sure you can always touch the floor and always check that your Mum and Dad can always see you from the beach.
A tide is the rise and fall in the level of the sea. When the tide is high, the water rises so much that a lot of the sand on the beach will be covered in water, when the tide is low, the water will move away into the distance and leave lots of golden sand for you to play on. The tide comes in and out at different times during the day and night, so it is important for you or your parents to be aware of the tide times before you go to the beach. Because the depth and size of the sea changes all the time, it is important to tell someone where you are going and what time you can expect to be back; tides come in very quickly and can cut people off from the mainland.
What do you do if you are in danger?
The Lifeguards at the seaside deal with thousands of distress calls each year from people who become stranded after the tide gushes in. Some even drown. Remember; if you are in danger follow the STA SAFETY CODE:
If you are swimming and get into trouble, raise one arm above your head and call for help, remain calm and try NOT TO PANIC.
If you find that you are unable to swim back to the land, then remain still in the 'HELP Position'
Heat = Head out of the water
Escape = Elbows kept to the sides
Lessening = Legs together
Posture = Point your back to the waves and wind
Someone WILL spot you and get help.
What should you do if you spot someone in danger?
Unless you have been fully trained in lifesaving, the STA strongly advices that you stay out of the water and alert the proper people, rather than enter the sea and get yourself into difficulty as well. One person is a lot easier for the Lifeguard to rescue than two.
Follow the STA SAFETY CODE and you and the person in the water will stay safe:
DO NOT put yourself at risk - there are plenty of ways that you can help without getting yourself into danger...
1. First of all shout to get an adults attention so that they can go and get help.
2. Secondly make sure that you keep talking to the person in the water - shout at them to 'kick their legs', get someone's attention and ask for help.
Find an object, like a branch or a buoyant object, lay down on the ground and shout to them to 'grab the aid'
If you can find one, throw a rope or a buoyant object to the person in the water and shout, 'grab the aid'
Once you have made sure that the person in the water has seen you and understands that you are going to help them, get to the nearest phone and dial 999 or 100 (this will be a free call, so don't worry about finding any money) tell them where you are and what has happened.
Above all it is important to remember that a day out at the beach is supposed to be FUN!! So as long as you are sensible and aware of the dangers of the water, you should be able to have a brilliant and fun packed time.
About the Swimming Teachers Association (STA)
The STA is a UK based educational charity that has been training professional swimming teachers all over the world for over 76 years. The charity firmly believes that swimming is much more than just a sport - quite simply it is a key life skill that everyone should learn, participate in and enjoy.
Dave has been involved in teaching swimming and leisure management for over 20 years. Before becoming CEO, he was also STA's youngest and longest serving President, which over the years gave him the opportunity to share his practical experience and influence the development of STA's swimming and lifesaving programmes.
Being a parent of two young boys, Dave also understands the importance of teaching children to swim for fun, safety and health.